Creative Ignition: Hungry Ghosts

Writing Prompts

This week’s writing prompt concerns the “realm of hungry ghosts.”

Gabor Mate, an addiction specialist who uses alternative spiritual frameworks in his practice, uses the term “realm of hungry ghosts” in his discussion of codependent realities and how a person develops addictive tendencies. Conceived in Buddhist spirituality, the realm itself is one among the several that we pass through in a lifetime and is described as hellish. Dr. Mate describes the addict as someone stuck being a
“hungry ghost,” like the one you see in the picture above, monsters with long, scrawny necks and huge bellies that will never be satisfied. Stuck looking to the outside to feed or satisfy them, addicts will use sex, praise from others, temporary highs from drugs or alcohol, consumerist endeavors, and all the like to try and satiate the insatiable.

There are many ways that passing through this realm can manifest in a human life. Any incredibly interesting character in the history known to man seems to have a need that is as desperate as it is impossible to satisfy. Think of our modern day anti-heroes like  Walter White or Dexter. They show up in short stories as a lonely man obsessed with the young girl at the pub, or a reporter whose obsessive curiosity leads them to their demise.

Now with your pen in hand, write a character piece (a short story, poem, whatever) about someone in the realm of hungry ghosts and how this manifests in a moment, a day, a week.

Melanie Falconer is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles, California. Her writing mainly concerns philosophy, personal experiences, cultural commentary, and her love of the visual and performing arts. If you’d like to reach out to her, you can do so here.

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